Wild garlic makes an early appearance

The first wild garlic of 2011? Spotted at the weekend in Ballasalla

The first wild garlic of 2011? Spotted at the weekend in Ballasalla

By the end of spring the wild garlic flowers are spectacular – such as here in Bishopscourt Glen

WILD garlic has made a very early appearance on the Isle of Man this year with the first leaves spotted at the weekend in Ballasalla.

Despite the coldest November and December months on record, the striking Manx wild garlic was breaking through the soil in good quantities in a sunny south-facing sheltered spot.

Wild garlic is a wonderful free ingredient for cooking and can be used in a wide variety of dishes. It’s most often used in salads and soups, but also makes a great pesto, as a substitute for basil.

A relative of the chive family, wild garlic prefers acidic soil. Later in the spring the plants develop white flowers, but by this time the leaves are well past their best and not much use for cooking. The flowers, however, are also edible.

The plant (allium ursinum) is also known as ramsons, buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic or bear’s garlic. The Latin name is due to the brown bear’s taste for the bulbs and its habit of digging up the ground to get at them; they are also a favorite of wild boar.

In the Isle of Man wild garlic is prolific throughout the glens and woodlands. It will start to appear from now right through to May by which time they will all be in flower, providing a fantastic display such as in Bishopscourt Glen, Kirk Michael.

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